By REGINA CORCORAN Citizen Columnist
Coming soon to a county near you, maybe even your own county! Like cascading dominoes, county after county in Florida is making a transition. To handle the flood of foreclosure sales, they turned to an online bidding system.
Viewers don't need any special hardware or software, only a computer and access to the Internet. Some counties even offer a limited number of computers with Internet access that participants may use.
Just like eBay Inc., you register and establish a user name and password. Even without registering, your fingers can do the walking through a calendar that lists the properties on the auction block.
Oh, yeah. You need money. Winner wannabe's must deposit 5 percent of their anticipated high bid for each property on which they want to place a bid. Cash, cashier's check, attorney escrow check, wire and electronic checks are accepted.
Nobody else can see your bid. It's not necessary to hover at your computer with fingers glued to the keyboard, feverishly ready to up your bid as each new bid comes in. You may enter your maximum bid at the start.
The auction system then checks all other bids and enters a bid on your behalf at $1 more than the next highest bidder. It stops entering bids for you when your highest acceptable bid is reached.
Bids placed with less than 30 seconds left on the auction clock will automatically extend the bidding period by an extra 60 seconds.
The winning bidders must deliver the balance to the clerk of the courts office by the next business day. If they don't, the county gets to keep their deposit money.
So, I get a clear title, right? Not necessarily. The title might be a "dirty title" laden with superior liens, like tax liens or mechanics liens. Clever bidders will order a title search.
The calendar of upcoming foreclosure sales typically shows the amount of the final judgment, the property appraiser's office assessment value and the maximum bid for the plaintiff (the bank or mortgage company).
What happens to my money if I don't win the bid? You have to request a refund. They don't just return your money automatically. It could take approximately two weeks to get your money back. I know. I know. They made you pay it now, now, now!
Ooops! I changed my mind. Before the auction begins, bidders may increase, decrease or cancel their offers. Once the auction for the particular property begins, they may only increase their bid.
No doubt, the system is a little different from one county to another. They don't all use the www.yourcounty.realforeclose.com software.
Still, welcome to the 21st century!
What do you think?
Regina E. Corcoran, SRA, is a Florida real estate broker, state-certified residential appraiser and residential contractor. She is president of AmeriRealty Corp. and vice president of AmeriMortgage Corp. She can be reached at ReginaECorcoran@cs.com. Corcoran writes her column exclusively for The Citizen. It appears every other Sunday.